Friday, October 12, 2007

Climb Every Mountain

I loved the bike before Floyd Landis was even born, so I've spent plenty of miles riding with other thoughts in my head, but these days, Floyd is always along for the ride. There are any number of other things knocking around in there, and a lot of just plain enjoying the day, but Floyd is inevitably somewhere in the mix. And it always brings a smile to my face - sometimes wistful, sometimes wry, sometimes mischievous - all with a solid underpinning of defiance. I trust Floyd will carry the same through his CAS journey.

The Sunday after the arb's decision came out was my last big ride before the Cadillac Challenge the following week. In an attempt to make up in intensity what I was lacking in miles logged, I did the Park Loop Road twice. Not overly strenuous, about 44 miles, but plenty of climbing to get the legs moving. The sun was shining, the scenery was sparkling, and I soaked it all in as I rode. I felt the joy and beauty of riding that we all hope Floyd can find again. And so I thought of him, and hoped he might be letting go on a ride himself that day. After I got back to the parking lot at the Acadia Visitor's Center, I was sitting on my bumper, having a snack, soaking in just a little more sun, loving life. As I got up to gather my bag to go change, at that moment, there was a group of Mennonites from Pennsylvania getting back into their van in the next row over.

I stood by my car, staring, struck by the exquisite timing and "it's a sign!" of it all. They probably thought I was just another ignoramus wondering why they were dressed that way. But I was actually jumping up and down inside, thinking, "Hey! Do you see my Smith and Nephew jersey? Do you know what that means? Are you Floyd supporters too?" I almost wanted to shout, "Go Floyd!" but I'm much too shy for that. And I suppose that would make me the ignoramus, making gross generalizations based on their appearance, but hey, they were from Pennsylvania, would it really be a stretch? Heck, you can even leave out the Mennonite part; I grew up in PA and consider Floyd one of "my own." Why I didn't go directly to buy a lottery ticket I'll never know, but I guess I chose to enjoy the synergy of the moment rather than see it as a harbinger of capital gain. I'm sure Arlene would prefer it that way, even if the lottery ticket would be for Floyd's benefit.

I was back in my S&N jersey the following Sunday for the Challenge, and we had another gorgeous gift of a day. There had to be a couple hundred cyclists there, and not one said anything about my jersey. I always wonder if this is: a) because there just aren't as many of us out there as we think, and no one recognized it; or b) because they were secretly laughing at what they saw to be a pathetic fanatic. In either case, their loss, I wore it proud as always!

I did the 72-mile version, and despite my lack of serious miles this year, it flew by. I rode for me, to enjoy the moment and the Park and the day and the challenge. I rode for my Dad, with whom I've shared countless hikes at Acadia, including a howling day up Cadillac Mountain some years ago. And I rode for Floyd, to remember what it's all about, to not lose sight of the joy of riding and what they can't take away.

The diabolical beauty of the Cadillac Challenge is that it ends going up Cadillac, named one of the best climbs in America. I repeated the One Tough Bitch mantra all the way up - I will be forever grateful to Floyd for inspiring it and Amber for perfectly naming it, it gets me up a lot of climbs. Then it was Who's Yer Daddy as I sailed into the summit and slurped the awaiting hot chocolate. The great thing about this ride is that the super-fit Century guys catch up with us Metric mortals somewhere along the Loop Road, and we get to celebrate the summit together.

Speaking of cycling heroes, Tony Mourkas and family are of the highest order - they put on a marvelous ride without all the unnecessary fuss and muss, and with the essentials - good roads, good cheer, and a love of the sport. And of course hot cocoa.

I wish it were as simple for Floyd, and that this next mountain he's chosen to climb were as easy (for him) as Cadillac and the view from the top as spectacular. At the very least, I hope he has a kick-ass ride on his birthday.


Anonymous said...

Great post!

But even though I too am shy in various social situations, my legs would have forced me over to the van. Mennonites. From PA. How did you stop yourself?! :)

And I also just realized what I should have gotten on the opposite side of my HTFU wristbands! "OTB"!
How did I forget?!! Next time. :)

Anonymous said...

Whoops, forgot to say that was from me!

susie b

cat2bike said...

Julie, I'm afraid I also would have wandered over and asked them if they knew who Floyd Landis was. It would have been tough if they said "no" but I'm sure they would have been gracious to listen to me babble about him, and his wonderful family!!

I use the "one tough bitch" refrain constantly when I'm climbing. It's gotten me up a lot of hills!

Great post, as always!!

Anonymous said...

Great post again, Julie -- though I've come to expect nothing less!

Sounds like you had an awesome ride and definitely deserve the OTB moniker ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey Julie! Just checking in to see how you're doing! I miss your writing, girl :)

Camille said...

Julie, hope all's well with you. Just checking in to say hi. :)